Life and Choices
Life and Choices
Which end of the rainbow holds the magic that will transform our lives? That proverbial ‘Pot of Gold’?
How far do we have to travel to find the elusive ends of those rainbows? It looks as though the ends are within our reach.
‘Okay, enough of the philosophical gibberish! We are a new generation and don’t grab hold too easily these pedantic metaphorical nuances. What’s your point’?
‘You are the point! Your generation is the point’!
Of ‘The Greatest Generation’, I’m a part, that pristine era that encompassed World War 2 and its aftermath. We helped to finally absolve a lingering malaise of ‘The Lost Generation’, the era following World War 1. We in my generation held no exclusive trademark on ‘sense and sensibility’. We had some blunders and gaps along the way.
However, for the most part, there was the pride and remembrance of those who gave their lives in the great war to preserve our freedom and liberty. Our military heroes paid the ultimate price.
Allow me to be plain in my words here…
I live now in ‘Twilight’, writing my fiction and observing the nature of the world around me, chaos and insanity across the waters as many countries vie for power and dominance, as new forms of immorality charge closer to our shores in barbaric numbers.
I watch our young people stray farther and farther away from the principles in our political bible called the ‘United States Constitution’, that document codified so clearly by our ‘founding fathers’… ‘United States Constitution’ and ‘Founding Fathers’, now seemingly phrases that edge not so slowly away from our consciousness, somehow deemed by some as outdated and not viable, not in tune with the times. Yet, we have thrived well over the years with this most diligently developed document, keeping our freedom and liberty in the safe bosom of democracy, for the most part, adhering to the timeless efficacy in our rule of laws. While the 'United States Constitution' might not be perfect, it's my belief we have proven to ourselves and the world that it is the best form of governance.
I watch some of our people caught up in a frenzied delusion imprinted on their brains by the monied power groups, misdirected media, and politically liberal groups…tearing down statues that have historical meaning for so many, trying to sanitize and erase from memory life and death struggles in our storied past, all the while labeling those who disagree as 'racists'.
I watch a brash, plain-speaking billionaire business man elected president of our nation, a neophyte politician, a man with a wide-spanning agenda to cure some economic and security ills in our country. His platform speaks to immigration reform, job creation, foreign policy shifts, infra-structure modernization, needed tax-reform, repeal and replacement of a most disastrous health program, better and more viable educational options, et al. His lack of political tact angers many while his supporters like his raw candor and feel America needs a heavy dose of plain talk and action. It is the view of many that, despite his lack of political savvy, he has a good heart and wants to truly
bring America back to its 'greatness' and world stature.
Despite the allure, charm, and eloquence of Barack Obama, many political think tanks believe that he made so many terrible foreign policy decisions, domestic miscues, and did some mysterious spending of tax payers’ dollars that it might be a while before we figure it all out. A few already say they have but can’t get any real traction from a biased media. Actually, it was my initial thought that Obama might be good for America.
No racial thing! No bias! No hate! Just the way I saw it then. Not so much anymore…
The new President Trump starts enthusiastically and quickly in his new job, surrounding himself for the most part with a cadre of intelligent and qualified people. He issues ‘Executive Orders’ to negate many of the previous president’s directives. He makes successful trips to troubled parts of the world and elicits support for his foreign policies. He takes a strong position on North Korea’s missile launches and unveiled threats against our nation. The fixation by the media on ‘Russian Election Collusion’ truly becomes tiring and a thorn in President Trump’s side as he tries for comity with our adversary.
His efforts find great support from his politically conservative and independent base, but the liberal leaning media and distressed democrats challenge him at every turn. His tweets on Twitter draw ire, and he is reviled by the so-called establishment groups in Washington, DC and by some in his own party.
‘So, what’s the point of all this?’
For the first time in my long life, the feelings for me are visceral. Watching the riots at Berkeley, the destruction of property there and other states, the professorial leanings toward guided liberal thinking of their students, I feel Democracy in my country shifting from its long freedom and liberty roots to a more open and socialistic society. I’m not an avid student of history but have studied enough to know that Communism and Socialism have never worked. When Large Corporations, Big Money, and the Power Elites make decisions for the working classes, it’s the beginning of the end. When freedom-loving people are duped by the liberal revolutionists of our times, beware the ‘Ides of March’.
You might very well differ in your thinking, and that is the American way. We can debate issues and come to different conclusions without hating each other.
I started my humble life in Appalachia and poverty. That buys me a ticket nowhere! I still haven’t made any ‘best seller lists’ with my books. I’m no longer in poverty, but neither am I rich and/or an envied one-percenter…just want my kids, grandkids, and great grandkids to have their freedom and liberty..
‘Tha-tha-tha- that’s all, folks’!
Billy Ray Chitwood – August 22, 2017
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When We Were Young: A Dual Sword
When we were young so many dreams occupied our time and thoughts: some with vivid pictorial views of white sands and soft blue waters of the Caribbean; some with the cowboy West and Johnny Mack Brown; some with heroic gallantry and deeds framed in our minds with technicolor brilliance. Our youth was dappled with the colors of our high school football, basketball, and track colors, young and pretty ladies wearing their ‘steady beau’s’ sweater with the school letters. There were hamburgers, French fries, and milk shakes at the local drive-ins with our pals and sweethearts, filtering through the rumors of the day and week.
A happy home with loving family members made the journey through youth joyous and unforgettable… For some…
When we were young so many dreams came in dark and gray flashes of angry parents, or, an itinerant alcohol-laced father visiting over a weekend, serving up ugly fights with Mom, spanking the kids with a hickory switch, and leaving indelible black holes of terror in the memory cells. Yet, there were the moments for wakeful dreaming about those heroic deeds and pretty damsels waiting for her hero to come and save the day.
When we were young there were friends to envy and respect, friends who somehow intelligently knew the difference in cultural divides and stood by the emotionally anguished and made youth enjoyable and still a viable part of life: a football mate, a school-skipping pal who ran with you all the coach-imposed laps the next day at practice that they knew would come from their absence the previous day; the summer plunges and competitive dives off the highest board in the community swimming pool.
And, there were some when we were young who just couldn’t make it through youth, through some corruptible lawless channel, an anger that could not be subdued, or an awful vengeance curse.
So, ‘when we were young’ was similar for many of us on several levels, and, while we cannot forgive those who are born of bad DNA seed, we might be mindful of that old and now tired bromide, ‘We all have to be from some place’!
Billy Ray Chitwood – August 14, 2017
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The day was sunny and without clouds as I arrived at her new residence.
The setting was beautiful, quiet, and serene with the deep green grass, sugar maples and oaks offering canopies of shade against the ultraviolet brightness.
I sat on the ground next to her as if we were on a picnic and began my soliloquy…
There were so many times I could have said, should have said, these words to you, sweet Pamela, but my fragile ego got in the way and…no matter, the disclaimers I would add have no real relevance now.
Here is what I wish you to know…
“Our romance began when each of us had clinging vulnerabilities: you, finishing your university education, beginning your career in teaching; me, ending a marriage – and other baggage. Our meeting was not so subtle as I attempted my alcohol-induced pitch to you in the popular nautical-themed restaurant where you worked as a waitress while going through your course load at Wichita State. We were both bitten and smitten by the Love Dragon, delirious in its domination of our hearts and souls.
Then, when your full-time teaching in Iowa took you from me, I wallowed in my own self-pity. You called me. I called you. Finally, the last time we talked I muttered my insecurities, ‘you’re there, I’m here’, and told you we had to put our love on hold. It wasn’t fair to you or to me.
You met a younger man, a student studying Theology and he wanted to date you but you would not. You said you were desperate to see me, and I flew to Des Moines the next day. The ‘Love Dragon’ awoke from his nap and we again were delirious in our reunion and could not deny our love. We recommitted and would stay with our romance. I shall never forget the trips I made to Des Moines and to the memories I cherish.
The ‘war’ came to Iraq, then to Afghanistan, and my National Guard unit was called up to relieve other troops on duty there. Injured by enemy grenade shrapnel, I lost my left arm and was sent home.
You immediately came to me, and our love was brighter than ever. You would not allow self-pity and kept reminding me of comrades who did not make it home at all.
We planned a summer wedding, and it was a magical few weekIs we were together in our planning for the big event. Our love virtually glowed, and, in our hearts, we knew the flame would never go out of our union. We were like kids at a circus, the excitement of being in love and never being apart again…”
The tears came and I could not continue.
I placed the flowers on her glazed monument of stone, allowed the tears to drop on the grass in front of her heart-shaped grave marker.
With my good right arm, I embraced as much of the stone as I could. With my lips, I gently touched the inscription for a long moment and tearfully mumbled the words on the stone:
“My heart and soul are yours, sweet Pamela, to be rejoined with yours in eternity.”
As was my daily wont I sat again on the grass beside Pamela and waited for night to fall. My tears came with the bittersweet memories…
The drunk driver who killed my Pamela was himself killed in a fiery blaze as his car spun out of control, over sidewalk curbing, and into a wall of stucco.
Flash Fiction by: Billy Ray Chitwood
July 24, 2017
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Have you ever thought about what life was like without all the technological advances and the fast doubling and re-doubling of knowledge?
Have you considered how life events shape your attitude and emotions? Why you are upset much of your waking moments? Why good news reawakens your latent capacity for positive behavior?
Look, I know I’m begging questions here and crossing generational lines. Sure, the younger people born in today’s world notice no great shift in their lives. They are living it, breathing it, and many ignoring it. The young among us accept the new PC rules of conduct, or, the jarring news that assaults us daily, finding a subliminal home somewhere in our psyche, no doubt to be altered in the next news cycle.
What am I writing here?
Damned if I know!
Except… Might as well get it off my mind
What do I know, or, think I know? I stay informed about what is going on in the world – North Korea building their Nuke capabilities-Russia this, Russia that, Syria, Iran, two political parties relentlessly shoveling their agendas on us with each tick of the News clock, no matter that so much of it is absurd, petty and schoolyard antics… One political party does this much more so than the other because they ‘can’t handle the truth’…their hatred shows with each primetime news session. We have a country to protect and to serve, and these people who work for us spend their days with confounding foolery… Okay, perhaps Russia did some hacking. Don’t know for sure, but they’ve been known to do it many times before this election. The simple truth is there are so many important policies we need to be shaping, rather than one side whimpering constantly over a presidential election loss.
I’m not a political pundit. I just want my country to stay free, to work as our great constitution provided. The American people elected a business man to be president of the United States, a brash, politically ineloquent man with his words, but an indefatigable mover and shaker, a man who seems to thrive on controversy and following through on his campaign promises of more jobs, better economy, defeating Islamic Terrorists, protecting our borders against illegal aliens crossing with their drugs, restructuring trade policies, cutting wasteful government programs, improving our infrastructure, re-shaping our foreign policy, enhancing our education system, and repealing Obama Care…
In my humble opinion, Donald Trump is a pragmatic, no-nonsense kind of man, plus, a workaholic. The president has already come through on many of his campaign pledges, including putting a new face on our foreign policies, meeting with Heads of State across the globe and establishing what seems to be promising and refreshing relationships. Job growth is up. New businesses are anchoring down in America. A great wall is to be built along our southern border – perhaps a solar panel gem.
I am not an Ideologue, not even close, but I do have a healthy dose of common sense. Born into Appalachian poverty, I’ve used plenty of outhouses and kerosene lamps in my day, and I can remember wanting more in life, but never envying someone who had more than I. Mistakes, bad judgements, I’ve made a plenty, and, wow, I’ve made it to twilight with a good wife, good home, wonderful children, and grandchildren I adore. So, please, understand, there are plenty of views to have about our political landscape, and I try hard to understand the reasoning of a few people who bleed just like I do. In fact, I’m amazed at times that folks can’t come together on something that seems to this old country boy a ‘slam dunk’!
When Barack Obama won the presidency, I was really impressed with his eloquent oratory and wanted him to succeed in making our nation a country finally at a point in history where bigotry and hatred would begin to recede faster and further back in history’s recording. Instead, he was on the world stage apologizing for America. At home, he was creating what seemed to me a socialistic structure of Political Correctness, welfare programs that would redistribute the wealth of hard-working Americans and Entrepreneurs to further entrench people, many without inclination to work or to find work. Obama steered his administration toward a massive Health program that is today holding many of our citizens hostage.
Having come into office with modest earnings, President Obama today is worth millions, working on becoming a billionaire, making $400,000 for each speaking engagement. I certainly have no resentment for the man making some serious bucks, but, really, this much money for a guy that once said he didn’t become president to work for the ‘fat cats’, a guy that was always on the stump preaching about financial inequality, only to become after leaving office an elite one-percenter.
The most ominous and visceral truth for me is that this man left the country in financial and societal disarray, the likes of which I’ve never seen in my lifetime… His glib and magical words seem now to me ominous omens. While I’m at it, I shall apologize to those who still think the man is all ‘peaches and cream’.
To finish up this little tirade, what I hope and pray will happen is that the disappointed people who have hatred for President Donald Trump will step back, relax, and give this non-political Commander-in-Chief a chance to, yes, Make America Great Again!
Billy Ray Chitwood - July 14. 2017
ATLANTA TO PHOENIX - FIRST CLASS
Posted on a 'Re-visit' July 7, 2017 by http://billyraychitwood.com - My Website under Flash Fiction
Atlanta to Phoenix - First Class
“Would you like a drink before takeoff, Mr. Bryson?” asked the lovely blond flight attendant with blue eyes and conquettish smile.
“Do we have time?” flicking my eyes a few times in answer to the smile.
“Sure. We have a bunch of planes lined up for takeoff. I figure you for Vodka, stirred, her sexy voice just above a whisper. You do look a lot like James Bond, you know?”
“Which one?” playing the game.
“Pierce Brosnan, of course. The others couldn’t come close… Be right back with your drink,” and she turned and dipped her hips in walking away.
Ah, could be an interesting flight. Guess I’ll just leave the laptop in the overhead compartment.
I’m Travis Bryson and I now only fly first class since my company accomodates my heavy travel schedule. It likely sounds phony, but I’m an Executive V-P for CCC, a facilitator of sorts, bringing our national branches up to date on some new software for Webinars… Hey, it’s only exciting stuff for geeks like me and my comrades in the field. You’ve met our types. We really love what we do.
Now, don’t get me wrong about the flirting – I’m not married (anymore) so I’m not a bad guy and I’m legal. I’ve got a thick crop of black hair. I’m six-feet tall, work out each day and so far keep that middle paunch non-existent. I’m forty-two years old – that’s the new thirty-two, I’m told – and work out of my hometown in Phoenix, Arizona… That’s where this plane is heading, and, hopefully, after I finish that Vodka Martini... (Speaking of which, here it comes, but, confession time, my eyes are really on the ‘Stew’, that face and body with the small tray in her hand, her swaying hips, and...). Again, don’t get me wrong… Oh, hell, you’ve got me right. There is nothing in life more beautiful than a woman, that is, a woman who has it all together. The guys know of what I speak, and one of those beautiful women just arrived at my seat with a ‘James Bond Special’. I’m not sexist. I’m not any of those annoying PC words or phrases. I just appreciate beauty in all its forms.
“Hope this is as you like it, Mr. Bryson. If it isn’t I won’t charge you for it…” This, followed by one more coy flash of the eyes and a snicker. “Oh, by the way, what does CCC stand for?”
“’Command Centers Conglomerate’… Okay, look, I know you’ve got another drink there to deliver, but is it okay if I call you Paula, as in Paula Jinx? We are going to be talking, and it’s a long flight from Atlanta to Phoenix. My name is Travis Bryson, as you already know, so call me by my surname, or, Trav…off you go now to deliver your next drink order.”
She spoke as she headed toward the back of the first-class cabin. “I’m impressed you noticed my name tag, Travis.”
Okay, it’s Friday, I’ve been on the road for two weeks, and I have no one waiting for me in the valley of the sun. I was going to get some laptop work done for Monday’s Executive Meeting at the office, but it can wait. I’m feeling frisky and I’m betting Paula just might be staying over in Phoenix…why, she might be home-based in Phoenix. This flight ends in Phoenix so, at the very least, she will be staying overnight.
The flight is filled and no ‘stand-by’ made it on the plane. The seat next to me is occupied by a stout bespectacled gentleman in his sixties, earplugs in, listening to music, and reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. My seat row partner has impeccable reading tastes – I did read and love Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. The man is a superb storyteller, and I am eager to read the other aforementioned book. Anyway, the gentleman next to me by the window is lost in his book and couldn’t care less about my flirting ability.
During the flight Paula served me three ‘stirred martinis’ and I turned down the fourth, making some silly rejoinder, ‘I have three of those and I can feel it. If I have four, anybody can feel it!’
After meals were served and all plates, silverware were picked up, the cabin passengers were reading, sleeping, or using the facilities. Paula and I traded playful quips for awhile. Then, as Phoenix got nearer, I thought I should make my move.
“You based in Phoenix by any chance, Paula?” The three martinis wired me for this conversation. I was ready for action. Two weeks on the road and planes can make you that way. ‘All work, no play’ kind of thing.
“Yes, I am. Is Phoenix your home base as well?” It seemed that same smile did not leave her face during the entire flight.
“It is, and I’m thinking maybe we should get together this evening, or, soon. Now, I notice you wearing no wedding ring, so I’m brazen enough to ask.” I paused, waited for her to respond.
“That’s sweet, Travis, So sweet! But I can’t.” She touched me softly on the shoulder.
“So, you’re married and don’t wear your rings, right?”
“Not quite, Trav, but you’re close.”
“You’re separated or getting a divorce and want to wait. Is that it?”
“Not divorced. Not getting a divorce. There’s another reason…”
Not giving her a chance to go on, I suggested, “You and your boyfriend are broken up and you want some space. I can understand that. I’ve been there, done that!” I smiled inanely. This lovely creature was turning me down, and I’m ready to ‘bet the store’ we will be in a few hours warm and cozy in my apartment.
“No, Travis, it’s not like that. You’re a handsome man and most girls would be happy to connect with you. It’s just – well, someone is picking me up at Sky Harbor Airport, and you and I are not a possibility, tonight or ever…”
“Ah, no break-up! You have a steady boyfriend. Well, I can tell you this, Paula, the airline trains you well because I really thought we had something going.”
“No, Travis, you still have it wrong – well, mostly, the airline does train us to be nice and friendly with our flying customers. But there is no boyfriend…”
She looked down at the aisle and sadly smiled.
Then, like a middle linebacker laying me flat out on the football field, it hit me. “You’re…”
“Yes, Travis, I’m gay!”
“Pretty, lovely Paula, will you please bring me one more ‘James Bond Special’? And, will you alert the airline to bring me a wheelchair to the arrival gate?”
Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – A Revisit! - July 7, 2017
NOTE: A 'disclaimer' of sorts - the lady in the picture above is having a birthday today...hopefully, she will still speak to me after reading this 'flash fiction! She's happily married and the mother of my wonderful grandkids - and, if she doesn't hate me, or sue me, after reading this little piece of memory flash from years past, she won't hang-up on me when I call her tonight to wish her a 'HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! She must know that, to me, she is most definitely, and, always, FIRST CLASS!
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My books cover the genres of mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, memoir. Many of my novels were inspired by true events. All the books have cover pics and summaries on this website. Please take a look – they are quality reads… Amazon reviews are most welcome and, indeed, mean so much to the author. Just click on book cover you might have interest.
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The Last Laugh
(Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood)
Hi, my name is Hymie Ludicrus and feel free to laugh. I love laughter directed at me.
At parties, people would break up when I gave them my name. What’s in a name, right? Laughter. Those party folks gave impetus to my being as funny as I possibly could. The ‘life of the party’, that was me (or, ‘I’, if you want me to show I know a bit about grammar). I didn’t leave the party with a girl – I had this crazy looking nose: it went down so far, then dipped and went further down almost to my upper lip…made eating and drinking some interesting experiences, particularly at a classy joint.
I remember as a kid, I didn’t get a lot of laughs with my name because the other kids didn’t have the vocabulary to connect my last name. Of course, my first name ‘Hymie’ would get a laugh now and then. Hey, it’s true, some people have very strange names one can use for comedy.
One kid on the varsity football team had the last name, Chitwood. I played with that name in my mind for quite a while until I came up with something. Chitwood was a pal so I knew he wouldn’t deck me or anything – probably, just laugh along with me and our other buddies.
So, our little group came out of Assembly one morning, walking to our next class, and I say to Chitwood: I’ve got you figured out, Chitwood. He says with a smile: Okay, wise guy, how am I figured? I make sure the group is tuned in to what’s being said, so I say: Is it true, Chitwood, that you eat sawdust and shit 2x4’s?
All in the group laughed, but Chitwood chased me all the way to my next class…which just happened to be English. I wondered if our attractive old maid English teacher would enjoy the question I asked of Chitwood.
Anyway, it wasn’t long before the entire football team was razzing my buddy, Chitwood, with my little mind quip. (Incidentally, you folks reading this, sorry for using the word, ‘shit’, but ‘crap’ just didn’t have the alliteration I needed…)
Well, let the record show I tried to become a real-life comic, worked on routines days and nights and finally got my shot at the Scottsdale Comedy Club. There was not a time in my life when I was so excited, and those ‘butterflies’ were giving me fits long before my Saturday night ‘gig’ – I was so proud I could now use a word (‘gig’) other comics, singers, and groups used.
My entry on stage I worked on relentlessly before the big night came. With a large crowd in the audience, I heard my name booming from the microphone. I swallowed hard, took a deep breath, brushed the backstage curtain aside, and walked on stage. People were cheering and applauding though they didn’t even know me.
Halfway toward the mike, in full view of the audience, I stumbled and fell (the routine I had worked on). The crowd was mixed with ‘oohs’ and laughter. When I got back on my feet, I gave them my grimaces, my head jerks, my crazy gyrations – all of which I worked on for weeks. When I grabbed the mike, I said: Is there a doctor in the house? A very pretty lady will work fine, as long as I can see her credentials… Only modest, likely, courteous laughter.
That entrance was to break my opening jitters and loosen up the crowd, and, to some degree, it did. My Shtick went over very well, got some good laughs, even used my crooked nose and a girlfriend I didn’t have in many of my routines,
Management invited me back. I started making a few bucks, hired an agent, Gail Pepper, fell in love with her, and, oddly, she with me. Her nose was a bit like mine, only smaller…kissing was a bit of a chore. (Laugh cue card, please!)
I started every comedy performance with the same joke – mostly for the new people in the crowd, but the ‘regulars’ loved it and roared every time I told it. It became my ‘signature routine’, with all the gyrations and facial expressions…
Two good friends are playing golf at their beautiful country club course. Both players are ‘scratch golfers’ and play the first six holes with no one in front of them. Both guys hit booming drives down the middle on the long par five 560-yard seventh hole. When they approach their second shots, they see a couple of women ahead of them some two hundred yards. The women are chopping up the fairway grass, hitting their balls maybe five or ten yards with each swing, unmindful of the players behind them. The guys are really getting fed up with the waiting… Finally, one of the guys tell his buddy, ‘Hey, I’m going to run up there and tell them to let us play through’. So, the guy runs up the fairway, gets within twenty yards of the women, stops, and runs back to his playing partner. ‘Wow’! the guy says, ‘I almost made a terrible mistake: one of those women is my wife, and the other is my mistress’… So, the other guy says, ‘Hell, I’ll run up and tell them to let us play through’. The other guy runs up the fairway and gets within twenty yards of the women, stops, and runs back down the fairway to his playing partner. ‘My God! Freddy, small world, isn’t it’? (Laugh cue card, please!)
The small world was my ‘oyster’ for many years. Gail and I bought our dream home. We had a son (Brooks) and a daughter (Belinda). We doted on them. Thank God! they both had their mother’s smaller nose, and, with no hooks. Our life was full. Gail and I bought and ran our own comedy house. We featured some top comedians and made lots of money.
I still did my gigs but somewhere along the way lost the sharp edges to my routines. At what would become my last performance, ironically enough, at the Scottsdale Comedy Club, it was not my finest hour.
My Shtick was stuck in neutral most of the night, but the crowd loved me: they even brought me presents – I just don’t know where the hell they got them. In fact, they threw them at me, big lush juicy tomatoes…just their way of showing they loved me!
As a closing routine, I stumbled and fell going off the stage and got the longest, loudest laugh of the night.
It turned out I got the last laugh.
Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – June 20, 2017
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Howling at the Moon
My howl grows weaker as the Summers come and go,
And the Winter’s bitter gales bring harsh realities to my world.
My aging body grows weary in its long seasonal quest to know,
To find in my meandering search the truth unfurled.
Yet, some abiding glimmer of Faith bids me journey on
As I see the eager and the young give rise to the next tomorrow,
To kindle old desires, awaken my mind to a new kinder dawn,
Tease me with truths-bearing wisdom I might better know.
Then, as years speed by steadily, and my steps limp along,
The world seems more precariously out of its orbital sync
As though some treacherous fate on wicked winds so strong
Comes to claim its ownership of an orb no longer able to think.
Poem by Billy Ray Chitwood – June 12, 2017
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“You’re a filthy beast!” she spoke as tears fell down her cheeks.
“And, what kind of beast, would you say?” his face squinted in a soft strange sadness.
The woman did not understand the expression, read it as a ‘mocking’ of the situation. She appeared cautiously in conflict with her emotions. She spoke again.
“Oh, go ahead with your ugly passion, Willard. I can’t stop you, but you can know this: I’ve never hated you more than at this moment.”
Willard stopped mid-stride and stared at the woman in the wheelchair, his brow wrinkled, his tired face showing an anguish she could not comprehend. His steps were measured and slow as he neared the wheelchair. The woman quavered and showed a fear she sought to hide. She hunched as much as she was physically able, and spoke:
“Please Willard, don’t slap me again, and don’t do the other thing…please! If I ever meant anything to you, please, please, don’t go in there tonight!”
For some terrible seconds, Willard stopped, stood erect, and appeared to consider what the woman was saying. With reticence, he looked wearily into her sad eyes before responding.
“It was you, Bella!” He spoke in a soft voice with a hint of some sort of pity. “You put yourself in that wheelchair when you tried to kill me. You do remember that night, don’t you, Bella?”
“I didn’t try to kill you, Willard. I only wanted to keep you away from Marcie, just trying to scare you, that’s all. I could never kill anyone. Marcie did something bad that one night, and you’ve been making her pay for it ever since. For pity’s sake, she’s only fourteen years old. You said you loved her as your own. What you’re doing is criminal and sinful.”
“You rushed me. I dodged. You went flying into the coffee table and damaged your back. I’ve gone all these weeks caring for you, Bella, while Marcie kept flaunting her blossoming body at me, smiling and inviting. You never saw any of that, Bella. Yes, it’s criminal and sinful, what you’re thinking, and I’m also a man who has needs – needs you can’t satisfy until you mend.”
“Can you so easily justify your actions against our daughter, Willard?”
“Our adopted daughter, Bella, fourteen years, going on twenty-four. I’m justifying nothing! You believe what she tells you. You don’t see her coming on to me every night. She’s insatiable in her own sexual needs, a nymphet right out of a Nabakov novel. She must be. I avoid her. I tell her it is all wrong, both legally and morally what she wants from me. That doesn’t stop her from coming to my bed each night. I never harbored a sexual need for her. It never entered my mind and still does not. You remember that night when she came out to the den in only her panties and bra. You went to bed. I was drinking and half-drunk. She tried to seduce me with her eyes, with her swinging hips, with her sitting on my lap and tormenting me with her moves.
“You came out and saw it all, Bella, and knew that it must be my fault, not Marcie’s fault, the little girl we brought home when she was six years old. You didn’t notice me trying to disengage from her that night, struggling to get her off my lap. Whether she learned about sex from her many ‘night-stay-overs’ with ‘school friends’, or, watched porno movies, she tried to seduce me with her knowledge of every move in the sexual manual. She showed me filthy pictures to seduce me. She…”
“Stop, Willard! Please, stop! I Can’t listen to your vile comments any longer.” Bella started to move her wheelchair toward her bedroom, but he stopped her.
“Just one last thing, Bella, and you can go to bed… I will say no more after these last comments. Please, hear me out.”
Bella looked down at her hands, intertwined on her lap and remained silent.
“Yes, I slapped you a few times, not hard, just enough to stop your rants about Marcie and me. You would never let me tell you what I’m saying tonight, and I’m sure you will never believe me. I’ve tried to tell you before tonight but you always get so angry – and that gets me angry, and I don’t tell you. That changes tonight…
“I have never had sex with Marcie, Bella…not that night you saw her on my lap in her panties, not any night. Yes, she comes to my room, and, in my anger, I sometimes slap her, warn her about losing her home, having her put in some squalid detention center, and come short from really strapping her, finally getting her back to her own room.
“What you saw weeks ago is all that happened, Bella. I repeat, I have never had sex with Marcie. AND, it would not have happened when you saw her on my lap. Yes, I had liquor working in my system, but I would never lose sight of my moral integrity altogether.
“I don’t know what Marcie is telling you, what kind of lurid tales she is spinning, but this I do know. She is an evil young lady, and I have spent all the time I care to spend on trying to straighten her out, talking to her in matter of fact terms, paternally and with caring feelings. AND, you need to know that, today, late this afternoon, after using up all my clear thinking in trying to save Marcie, I visited state officials and alerted them that the situation was no better than when I first reported it to them weeks ago. Yes, I reported Marcie to state officials and followed up on several occasions to keep them informed.
“They will be picking her up tomorrow morning. The officials are my friends, Bella, and they believe what I’ve told them. They believe me because what I’ve told them is true…they even did background checks on her former life before us, on her sinister parents.”
“My God, Willard! She’s our daughter.”
“Bella, do you not believe the words I’m telling you? Marcie is evil! I’ve tried to save her! Can’t you see that? She is telling you unsavory lies, working against us. She cannot stay any longer in this house. I truly can say, I’ve done all I can do… She now belongs to the state.
“I know this is difficult for you, but you have not seen Marcie as I’ve seen her. You have been wheelchair-bound, unable to lend your maternal counsel to her. You must know I would not lie to you about this. You know how I’ve loved you over the years…that has not changed. I still love you and long for the day you’re out of that wheelchair. Marcie is a victim of her previous parents, a ‘bad seed’, and I’ve come to know she cannot be here any longer. She is trying to hurt us, Bella. PLEASE! Understand that.”
Tears rushed down Bella’s face, and she could see the tears on Willard’s face as well.
With some effort, she reached a hand upward to her husband. Willard caressed the hand, kissed it, held it against his cheek for some seconds, and smiled gently down at his wife.
“Now, you must go to bed and get your rest…”
Bella tried to speak, to give one last attempt at saving Marcie, but she knew, now, without any doubt, that Willard had spoken the truth to her. Her voice rendered incapable of speech by the tears, she sighed deeply, slowly shook her head as Willard wheeled his distraught wife to the bedroom.
Willard pulled the bed cover up to her chin, and, as he took a sleep capsule from a pill bottle on the bedside table, he spoke gently and with love.
“Take the pill, dear Bella. You need aid to get you to sleep and away from the thoughts. Take also my love and know that, tomorrow begins the first day of the rest of our lives. All our days will be happy and good after this darkness leaves us.”
Bella took the sleeping pill, wiped her eyes with a soft tissue and allowed Willard a kiss goodnight.
When three state officials arrived the next morning, no one answered their front door ring.
Concerned because the dire circumstance of their visit, they jimmied the door and entered.
An odd odor greeted them, along with splattered blood on the tiled floors and walls of the master bedroom.
A portion of the big king-sized bed was covered with the blood of Bella, half-covered on the bed, her face oddly peaceful as though still sleeping.
Stretched across Bella’s lower body was Willard, his own blood oozing out of the multiple stab wounds to his now mutilated pajama top.
The officials searched the other rooms of the house but could not find Marcie.
“Oh, my God!” cried the lone lady in the group. “It must be obvious that Marcie murdered her adoptive parents. We need to alert the Sheriff’s office and the State Police.”
Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – June 7, 2017
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-Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood-
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”
He stared at the ceiling as he reclined on the big bed, his naked body stretched straight, seeking relief from his back pain.
“It’s been years, my son, since your last confession. I hear desperation in your voice. Is the Church your last bastion of hope?”
A mournful smile of contrition and watery eyes looked upward to the ceiling. He would play both parts of this little satire from his soul, not mocking the billions of people who habitually practiced their faith in a Deity, rather, an awkward attempt at an anodyne for his pain.
“Yes, Father, on all accounts…” a back spasm interrupted his soliloquy and he sought another position on the bed. He was too tightly wound and needed to move his limbs in some exercises the cute young lady in physical therapy had insisted he practice each day.
Finally, he found some relief and continued with his conversation with the ‘Holy Father’ there in the center of his ceiling. “Yes, Father, many years, and, in conflicting ways, a lifetime ago, yet, now, here, as the filmstrip of my earthly adventure unveils itself to me, my weekly spiritual visits to your Church seems not so far away.”
The man was almost ready to hear a reply. Not to be, he continued.
“So, on to my confession, Father, one, I fear will take more than a few ‘Hail Marys’ and a heavy penitence to absolve.” The man closed his eyes and his face took on a grimace.
“I confess to one of Man’s oldest of the seven sins, Pride. All my life I’ve taken umbrage with people who sully me, sometimes, in simple remarks that attempt to jest and tease. Perhaps that sin comes from a youthful disconnect with family and a poor quality of life. This sin has cost me friends and love connections. It is also truth to say it is the least of my sins.
“I confess to an earlier life rife with excessive sensual pleasures, Lust/Debauchery of the wicked and most wild, orgy-filled, salacious kind. I sought out and experimented with life’s underworld of Bacchus-plus drug madness. There were moments of intense euphoria, gratification, and immoral depravity.
“And, when the days and nights of playing Nero’s mad fiddle ended, there were tears, self-recrimination, times for soul-wrenching and no resolutions: preparation-time, it could be said, for the next ‘big toot’.
“I confess, Father, to periods of Envy, of Sloth, of Gluttony, and of Greed.
“There remains one more sin, Father, that of Wrath. I have saved it for the final portion of my confession because there was a prelude of most, if not all, the seven virtues before its denouement… a period in my life of happiness so fulfilling, so real, that it seemed my life had found its right and true moral compass.
“Having run the gamut of my ‘fiddling' days, I sought to find a more righteous purpose in my life. A friend of mine who had been lost in the same forest of shame as I invited me to go to church with him on a beautiful Sunday morning in June. After smiling stupidly at the idea, I decided to go…to see how the ‘moral half’ lived.
“Are you still with me, Father? Have I lost you in my recount of decadence?”
The man could almost see the Father’s smile. “How could I not? What with such an interesting life you present to me?”
“You, Father, speak with a forked tongue. You must know it’s the fires of hell I’m destined for!
“Whatever, at the beautiful church with my friend, I met Maureen, a woman of remarkable beauty I felt destiny had placed in my path. We both felt a Karmic bonding and began a long relationship which ended in marriage.
“Our love was pure and, by any standard, storybook. We danced in the moonlight and worked every day at our jobs, saved our money and became wealthy, mostly by her artistic talent and her huge following. We were together all the moments we were not working or at a painting exhibition.
“We had a baby boy who died in his sixth month of an undiagnosed tumor.
“Maureen and I were devastated by Brian’s death, but, for her, there was an emptiness she could not fill. She began drinking. She stopped painting, and fate pulled her from me into the arms of another man. She was still trying to fill the void left by Brian.
“We began to argue, our spats becoming an ugly, yet another obtrusion to our love.
“Last night, Maureen arrived home after midnight, clearly in the mood for another spat. I pleaded with her to go to bed. She became infuriated with me and began slapping me. The slaps made me angry, and I tried to wrap my arms around her to carry her off to bed. She stomped my foot with the heel of her shoe and pushed me backward. I began to fall and grabbed her wrist instinctively to secure my footing. Then, she, too, began to fall, and I let go so she could get her footing. Her head banged loudly into the granite counter in our bar area and she went down onto the carpet, blood spreading out in a profuse flow from the gash. Maureen died last night, Father.”
The man could almost hear the sorrow in the Father’s voice, see the pain on his face through a small imagined window in a small imagined confessional.
On the bed, as tears flowed from the man’s eyes, he saw a pale shadowy figure, an apparition, Maureen, her arms extended toward him, her sad tearful eyes and still beautiful face beckoning to him.
The man’s face was covered in tears, his voice gagging and pitiful gasps, as he thrust the butcher knife upward into his heart.
The bedroom was silent in its darkness as the two wraiths walked across the room to eternity.
Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood - May 25, 2017
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Why is it so? This mystical longing, this wanderlust, this soul odyssey?
There are so many parts that make up this mortal body: the part that takes me to moments of happiness and joy, like love’s ecstatic swoons; the part that cries in the sadness of a child’s suffering, the madness of evil-doers, the movies that convey tragedies of loss; the part that yearns for new surroundings – desert, mountain, seaside territories – while knowing the respite and serenity will be but temporary.
But, then, the question is begged. I know full-well the answer. Along with the baffling DNA, the early mobility of childhood, a displaced family, and some steady diet of emotional soup, I am what I am. The good fortune for me: I did not go too far toward the ‘dark side’…that is, crime was never an option. Something innate, a good mother’s nurturing, kept me somewhat wholesome. Well, there was some naughtiness along the way, says he, tongue in cheek.
Crime and evil do fascinate me – the serial killers, mothers who torture and/or kill their children, psychopaths, sociopaths, all those who blame everyone around them for their degenerate natures.
So, I take my unsophisticated microscope to the bizarre news accounts of the day and write fictional accounts of the abductions, homicides, and felonious natures of the willful pursuits.
The funny thing, in those lines and between those lines that I write, there is self-discovery. I see pieces of me, bits of anger, anxiety, frustration, and even my ruling romanticism. The anger and frustration is of course directed toward the evil I’m fictionally chronicling. The anxiety, plus occasional tears, come with the depiction of those unsuspecting characters who have been killed, maimed, and emotionally disabled.
Writing is my therapy, my ‘sofa time’ on the psychiatrist’s sofa. After a considered good session on the laptop, my elation shows its self. There is a sweet sense of accomplishment. In re-reading the sections I’ve written, I am often elated and sometimes mumble to myself: ‘Did I write that’? There’s a feeling that an invisible hand has taken over the keyboard…a euphoria, if you will, that a particular chapter, paragraph, phrase, can stimulate me so much.
SOUL ODYSSEY came to me as the title for this blog post, and I wanted to share it with my fellow authors. For me, I think the title fits. Perhaps it does for you as well. My best wishes to all who peck the keys and create…
Billy Ray Chitwood – April 25, 2017
Here are three of my fourteen books…hope you can stop by my Website and preview these and books of different genres, see some books reviews, some author comments, and read some blog posts: https://billyraychitwood.com
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